Tomb Raider was first brought to the gaming world in 1996 by developers Core Design and publishers Eidos Interactive(which is now Square Enix); it was a game of exploring, killing enemies of all sorts, solving puzzles and well, raiding tombs. As well as all this the gaming world was also introduced to the first real action/adventure heroine…Lara Croft.
In the brand new Tomb Raider which was released on March 5th, the game has had a major revamp which makes it look and feel bloody awesome. Lara has been given a complete makeover in all aspects; this is very refreshing and definitely a step in the right direction for the franchise.
Originally lead graphic artist for Core Design, Toby Gard said that he wanted the concept of Lara Croft to be a strong female, complete opposite to the stereotypical female characters in games, however when in the middle of designing her he accidentally increased her bust size by quite a lot…the rest of the team decided to keep this look and thus a rather oddly proportioned explorer was born. Over the years Lara has been changed slightly in looks and abilities but one thing always stuck and that was her strength and determination, she has been a popular choice for many female cosplayers as she has it all, looks, strength and intelligence, a very good role model for women everywhere.
However it’s not always been this good for Lara. As soon as the Tomb Raider films were released starring Angelina Jolie as the heroine herself things started falling fast for the franchise. The films were not well done and Jolie’s acting was pretty cringe worthy. At the same time of this all happening the games had also gone rather crappy, Eidos seemed to be losing track of the game and released Angel of Darkness…which done terribly. Lara has kept being changed and improved to give her more emotional depth, more realistic skin and muscle tone and revamped clothing but none of this seemed to get sales that high, even with the last instalment in the series, Underworld. The series wasn’t doing as good as anyone had hoped, that was until now.
This latest reboot of the game has done marvellous things for the franchise and Lara really has been born again. Square Enix stated that they wanted to make her as realistic as possible now in all ways and that’s exactly what they have done. After playing the first ten minutes of the game I was feeling real empathy for Lara and started making a connection with the character, this is something I have never done before with this game series.
Physically she now looks like a typical young woman, she is still brunette and attractive but finally her body is now in proportion and much more realistic for the physique of someone who’s as active as herself. Also gone is her smug confidence, this has been replaced with a much more vulnerable attitude where she is learning as she goes along. These aspects make her much easier to connect and identify with her on different levels. This new version of Lara is gritty and much more emotional and I feel like this should of happened a long time ago as it could of saved the franchise from being put to the bottom of the pile as soon as arch rival Nathan Drake showed up on the scene in his highly popular Uncharted series, all I can say now is Mr Drake better watch out as the original explorer is back and she is kicking some serious ass to gain the title back.
I really can’t express how much you feel for our heroine now as you play the latest Tomb Raider, every time she gets hurt it makes you flinch, the first and best example of this is when she falls onto a metal rod, as you frantically tap the button to pull it back out you can’t help but imagine how much agony she is in. Another nice touch to her character is how you see her reaction to when she first kills someone, in the other games she has killed many enemies without even blinking but in the reboot you see the fear in her eyes and how distraught it has made her. She also actually swears in the game, (for me this is big as her character has always been an aristocratic snob,) again this change allows players to really connect with her and how she is feeling. As you play through the game you see Lara face her fears and overcome them, growing stronger with each feat accomplished, turning step by step into a fearless heroine. After a lot of hard work and new concepts Lara Croft is now a character you are able to bond with and through this rebirth of Tomb Raider she is now stronger than ever before.